Nature Rambles | Look and Listen

butterfly milkweed

The butterfly milkweed, a favorite food for Monarch caterpillars, comes into bloom in Central Illinois in June. (Photo by Mike Miller)

MIKE MILLER

MIKE MILLER

June is the month when several species of milkweed come into bloom. This is Butterfly Milkweed, above, with distinct orange flowers. Native milkweeds are important nectar sources for many species of insects. They are also crucial nurse species for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. Throughout the month of May, female Monarchs will search out milkweed plants and lay their eggs on them. In June caterpillars emerge and begin feeding on milkweed. This will be the third generation of Monarchs who will travel from here north into Canada and the Great Lake states. There our butterflies will lay eggs to produce the fourth generation of the season. It is this group of butterflies that will take a magnificent journey all the way to the mountainous forests of Mexico.

June is the month to hear the song of the Gray Treefrog, below. Chirping, trills from high up in the tree tops in our forests are all that you might notice of this amphibian. Fairly secretive, solitary and nocturnal, they like woodlands with ephemeral pools and wetlands to lay their eggs. Sometimes you can find them resting on the side of buildings, near porch-lights, in the daytime. They come to these lights and will feed on insects that are attracted by the artificial lights at night. They can be bluish gray or vivid green.

Gray treefrog

The song of the Gray Treefrog is heard throughout Central Illinois in June. (Photo by Mike Miller)

Mike Miller



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